Real Meals Have Returned To American Airlines Medium-Haul Domestic Flights

Real meals are back in American Airlines first class which is to say we no longer suffer from shrink-wrapped turkey or pimiento cheese sandwiches.

Earlier in the month hot meals returned to first class on flights of 1500 miles or longer. The roll out went surprisingly smoothly. And now meals – albeit a charcuterie plate or vegetarian sandwich on pretzel croissant at lunch – are returning to flights 900-1499 miles in distance. That’s a step forward.

Predeparture beverages are supposed to be back. Preorder meal service will return to domestic first class in April. Special meal pre-order returns in May (Asian, Vegetarian, Diabetic, Hindu, Kosher, Gluten Intolerant, Muslim, or Vegan).

This American Airlines-provided image shows the charcuterie plate. It also shows a cut-off chocolate bundt cake, which it turns out they’re making a bigger deal of than I’d expected.

Credit: American Airlines

American has a video promoting the desserts in domestic first class on flights of 900-1499 miles isn’t about how delicious the bundt cakes are, it’s about how transformative the procurement is for this woman- and minority-owned business.

That’s great as far as it goes, though I’d prefer a more ‘food forward’ approach. Talk about the cakes and how great they are, and then tell me the story of the people behind the scenes delivering them on board. The lack of any mention of deliciousness in the video stands out.

A bundt cake is probably better than the chocolate chip cookie, at least better than any they’ve served since US Airways catering standards went into effect in 2014. Nothing will replace the smell of baked-on-board cookies wafting through the cabin from the pre-merger days, however.

Of course there’s still no buy on board or alcohol service in coach (whether complimentary in Main Cabin Extra or for sale) and that’s true even as Southwest has brought alcohol service back on its flights. American has said alcohol won’t return to coach until the federal mask mandate ends.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s a good start !! A very welcome start !!

    A big pat on the back for trying to begin to provide a bit better customer service.

    So I only have encouraging words for American Airlines on this one. Does it go all the way to bright? Well, no. But it is at least illuminating the idea of better customer service. And for that, a big “thank you” is given.


  2. Just had lunch ORD-MIA. I have to say it was really good. Warm towels distributed first. Had a nice Napa Merlot. Warm nuts served. Lunch was a delicious blackened shrimp salad. Dessert was bundt cake.
    Don’t miss the turkey or pimento sandwiches at all.

  3. Considering half of American’s flights will be cancelled at DFW fir the next two days, a lot of passengers won’t be getting even a flight. Is it time for AA and Dfw airport to invest in better winter ops capabilities?

  4. @Tim Dunn
    A few weeks ago you thought Gary was being too critical of AA’s handling of the previous winter storm. You stated, “Ice is all together different from every other type of weather event. When DFW metro roads were emptied and roads were bare, it is a huge kudos to AA that they managed to operate anything.”

    So which is it?? All airlines are at the mercy of mother nature? or some amazing new technology has surfaced in the last few weeks, which miraculously circumvents ice, and AA hasn’t bothered to acquire it?

  5. Chris,
    I was critical of Gary’s criticism of AA re: AA’s ability to recover. My notes today are as the weather hits. If it takes 4 days after the ice event for AA to stabilize its operation, then criticism is justified.
    I am suggesting that DFW and AA may need to spend money in order to keep their operation running better in winter weather.
    I get that ice is difficult in any environment but there were multiple flights today that were diverted and several airlines just cancelled their operations. That isn’t a reflection of AA but the airport.
    It is also worth noting that AA cancelled a much higher percentage of their flights than WN at Love Field and the same will be true tomorrow.

    None of which changes that DFW is AA’s largest operation and all of the catering improvements don’t matter if they have to cancel double digit percentages of their network on multiple days in consecutive months.

    Either DFW isn’t near as good of a location for a hub or AA and DFW need to spend more money to manage through it when winter weather comes – and it clearly does
    Given that those two airports are less than 10 miles away via air, I doubt if the weather was that much different.

  6. and let me add that now that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is underway, oil price futures will soar and airlines have no choice but to cut a whole lot just to survive.
    Enjoy the meals if you can get them.

  7. I’ll take a nice plate of meats & cheeses any day over what United just served me (both directions): tasteless egg-white ‘bites’, little weenies with no flavor and big chunks of something that looked like orange potatoes. It was nearly inedible. I asked for a snack box from coach on the way home and enjoyed the ‘real food’ immensely more than the ‘hot breakfast’ on my outbound flight. The alternative choice, by the way, was a ‘bananas foster waffle with syrup’. Why not just serve a big candy bar instead? They could add a side of ice cream.

  8. I had breakfast on my fight from LAX to PHL on the Feb 19th and on Feb 20th from CLT to LAX. LAX to PHL offered the Cheese Omelet with potatoes and sausage with your choice assorted breakfast bread! CLT to LAX offered a breakfast cheese enchilada with black beans and sausage also with your choice of assorted breakfast. I was sooooo excited!! Oh how I have missed the warm biscuits!!!! 🙂

  9. @Gary
    What is AA serving to Europe. Found a great fare, so I jumped on it but fear AA’s food.
    Just in case I will bring some food to tide me over.

  10. @Tim Dunn: Is it the war, or is it the weather, or is it greed? American Airlines now wants 39,000 miles from Detroit (DTW) to Nashville (BNA) for flights tomorrow. For the last three days, flights out of Detroit on AAdvantage miles tripled or quadrupled in price.

  11. @Ken A
    revenue management systems are worthless in the middle of major irregular operations…
    I expect flights out of Dallas are full so there are a handful of seats left to sell at any price.

    And my original observation from yesterday is still valid… AA at DFW cancelled more than half of its flights while WN at Love Field cancelled less than 1/3 of flights.
    Most notably, Delta operated 4 out of its 5 flights from Love Field, all with 35 minutes or less delay on the arrival in Atlanta and one exactly on time, but cancelled all of its flights from DFW.

    Is DFW just too large to manage bad weather – even for airlines that aren’t named American?

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